The Japanese Sumo wrestling is a form of competitive full body contact wrestling, where a wrestler referred to as Rikishi tries to force the opponent to the ground or out of a circle to win the match (Ando et al., 2018). A person loses the game if their bodies touch the ground with any other part apart from the leg sole. The sport originates from Japan is widely practiced professionally in the country. However, with time it gained global recognition in other countries including the USA have participants and wrestlers. The purpose of the paper is to highlight the history of the sport, the rules of the game, historical development, cultural importance expressions of cultural value in the game and its relation to the US sport and culture. The goal of the of the paper is to introduce to the readers to the Japanese culture through Japanese sumo wrestling and how it relates to the US culture.
Overview of the national history
Sumo wrestling also referred to as the Ozumo, is an ancient wrestling sport that started in Japan. It dates back to the Yayoi period which was between 300 BCE and 300 CE (Ando et al., 2018). The fight has a lot of elements from the Shinto rituals and has most of its rituals and conventions. The roots of the fights can be traced backs to the Shinto ritual dances that aimed to find the strongest men as they had to display their strengths in front of the gods or the spirits that are referred to as the kami. The activity was a sign of respect and gratitude when they were able to get good harvests for that season. However, with time it became a way of determining strengths between fighter and who was more skilled in using their hands during combat. During the Edo period, the fighters were ranked from the amateurs to the most skilled fighters (Dovchin et al., 2018). With time the fights gained the celebrity status and soon the fights became mainland thing
The wrestlers are currently ranked six categories. The maku-chi are the most skilled rikishi, and they are the 42 bets rikishi. They are also the ones that receive the most media attention. On top there is the Yokozuna who is their grand champion. Ever since the sport was introduced, there have only been 71 Yokozuna’s showing how hard it is to achieve that rank. To become a Yokozuna, one must have won two hono basho which are the grand competitions (Duggan and Levitt, 2002). The second is the jury, followed by makushita, sandame, jonidan, and the jonokuchi as the lowest
Overview of the rules of the game and its historical development.
The rules of the game are simple and easy to follow. The main and basic rule of the game is that if any part of your body touches the ground apart from the sole of your feet the match is over and you have lost. Also, if you are pushed outside the small circle that is drawn, you have also been defeated, and the opponent can be announced as the winner. The game has several do’s and don’ts that ensure that there is fair play. The match prohibits the opponents from hair pulling, eye gouging and hitting with closed fists. The opponents can, however, slap the opponent. Additionally, while choking is not entirely allowed, thrusting with open palms at your opponent’s throats is fully permissible. The opponents are also not allowed to grab their opponent crotch area (Bridges and Philips, 2018)
During the wrestling match, one is allowed to thrust to the opponent with an open hand. However, one cannot punch his opponent. Also, when individuals are in a bear hug pose, they cannot interlock their fingers. Under the same guideline, grabbing below the waist is not allowed (Ando et al., 2018). The wrestlers can grab their opponents but not anywhere near the groin area. The rule extends and outlines that, if one grabs the opponents’ belt, they cannot crash them from above thus crumpling their backs.
The sport has no different weight classes. While most of the rikishi are heavy, it is not about size. The sports tests on the agility, tactics, and strategy. For example, a smaller opponent that is agile can duck aside and use a bigger opponent’s momentum to push them out of the circle and win the match. The rule and regulations are in place to ensure that there is fair play whenever the rikishi are fighting (Bridges and Philips, 2018).
Overview of the cultural importance of the sport.
The sumo wrestling in Japan is more than just a sport. It is the people culture with a set of traditions that are woven deep in the Japanese past. Therefore, anything that is done represents the people way of life and they hold any activity associated with sumo dearly. They would, therefore, jealously protect the culture
The cultural importance of the sport is it gives the sportsmen and the Japanese people a chance to cleanse, chase away the evil spirits and pray. New of the most important part of the bout is the ceremonies that are conducted before the bouts. They can be equally interesting, and they are rich in the cultural and historical content of the Japanese people (Dovchin et al., 2018). Before the match dohyo which is the 4.55-meter diameter platform for the match is cleansed. The process involved praying for the safe of the rikishi. The cleansing process is the longest. The process involves adding nutmeg berry, dried fish, dried chestnut and dried cuttlefish in a small hole that is made at the middle of the ring. When the rikishi’s enter the ring from each side, west, and east, they have to perform the shiko ritual which involves stomping of the feat and clapping the hands. The stomping and clapping chase away any lingering evil spirits that are in the rare. Before the fight, the fighters ae given the chikara-mazu which is the cleansed water or the strengths. They will receive the water from the rikishi that they defeated last. The next thing will be to take a handful of salt and throw it in the ring before they can start the match. The referee can then signal the start of the match, and the rikishi can engage, observing the rules already outlined.
Overview expressions of cultural values in the sport
The cultural values of the sport are immense. The sumo wrestling is a predominantly male sport with more male wrestlers than the female wrestlers. The game is more of male as it is physical. Traditionally, it was all about showing strengths, which was not part if the women objectives. However, the number of female wrestlers has been on the increase, and 2018 saw the highest number of women wrestlers trying to gain their space in Sumo wrestling as it is gaining popularity over the years (Inglehart, 2018).
The sport is practiced widely from Japan, and it is or presents globally, even in the USA. The sportspersons are usually bigger. There have been reports that most of the wrestler are obese individuals, but it was not proved. Given the nature of the sport and the tactics of the sport, it has favored the bigger bodied and non-disabled individuals than the small-bodied people even though they can be agile and quick.
Relation to US Sport and Culture
In the USA Sumo wrestling is known as the national sport of Japan, and it has a long history in the country. The sport has played critical roles on the Japan-American communities that are found in Hawaii and West Coast. However, the roots of the success and globalization of the sport can be traced back to the culture and explanation of ceremonies and rules of Sumo. In the 1950s sumo emerged as a popular sport among the second-generation Japanese that were living in Hawaii, LA and San Joaquin Valley.
Sumo sport is a bit different in the US. It is more popular in Japan than in the USA. Additionally, Japan already has established training patterns resources tactics, styles, stables, eating routines and stables that trains the professional wrestlers who are not present in America. Nevertheless, the sport is still widely practiced in America (Jackson, 2018).
America holds US Open Sumo tournament. The tournament has grown and became the largest amateur sumo competition that is not located in Japan. While the sports trails behind football and soccer, it has a lot to offer the Americans like instant gratification (Ando et al., 2018). The math has also gained popularity because of its simplicity. The rules are quite simple, one is just supposed to push opponent outside the small circle, or you can take him down which is pretty easy to understand. The US culture has not had great success in implementing or establishing the professional Sumo competition and wrestlers because of the pay from the sport. The US culture did not respond positively to the culture as positively as Japan. Most people associated the sport with the Japanese. With their flexibility, the Sumo wrestlers can also play other sports, and they can turn equally good like the rest of the players.
Summary of Content and Conclusion
Sumo is one of the most famous sports that originated from the Japanese. It has gained popularity, and it is now globally recognized, and it even competes in the Olympics. The sports has a rich Japanese culture that marks and highlights its origins. Also, the practices and the rituals highlight a rich Japanese culture (Ando et al., 2018). From the rituals, the Japanese are highlighted as very religious as there are more than five cleansing stages. The sumo in itself demands discipline and observation of the rules otherwise a wrestler will be disqualified from the match, and the opponents get the win. The sumo wrestling is still a male-dominated field, but the women have started coming as it gains popularity. The wrestlers are ranked from jonobash to the highest ranking called Yokozuna who are also the highest paid. However, Japanese sumo culture is under threat. Out of the seven highest ranked sumo wrestlers, only three are Japanese, and the country has never had a Yokozuna since 1998 (Ando et al., 2018).
The global presence of the Sumo has reached the USA. While in the USA they try to observe as many rules as possible about the sumo as in Japan some of the rituals are overlooked due to the culture difference. Either way, the rules during the matches are the same throughout. The US has established US Sumo open that is one of the largest sumo competitions outside Japan. The sport has significantly influenced the sporting and culture of America. Many people are now able to associate themselves with the Japanese culture because of the Sumo wrestling.
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